Vauxhall's 1.4 turbo engine is closely related to previous editions but it has been repurposed in the latest Corsa to put deliver more mid-range torque, lower CO2 emissions and improved fuel consumption.
You can see the evidence in the engine’s published specification: the generous maximum torque of 147lb ft is delivered over a flat peak between 1850 and 3500rpm but its peak power amounts to just 99bhp, fully 30 per cent less than more performance-oriented turbocharged rivals of the same capacity.
The engine starts and idles quietly, and is very smooth at low revs, but it pulls robustly as soon as the driver engages the clutch from standstill – and it delivers very docile low-end performance. Thrust is strong in the 2000rpm to 3500rpm range, but it starts to tail off in the 4000s and by 4700rpm you’re better off changing up, much like a diesel.
The benefit is claimed combined fuel consumption of 55.4mpg, and official CO2 emissions of 119g/km, low enough to save an owner from having to shell out on road tax in the first year, and limiting it to £30 in the second.
In fact, this may well be the perfect engine choice for someone who likes diesel characteristics but doesn’t want a diesel car. Given the current future over diesel emissions, Vauxhall may well have identified a trend that will grow. But woe betide the driver, used to top-endy petrol engines, who expects strong upper-range passing performance: it’s not there.
Vauxhall prides itself on building cars for the way people really drive and this may well be the perfect example. Once you’ve realised the 1.4T is a petrol engine with diesel characteristics the Corsa is pleasant, long-legged and relaxed. The throttle response is fairly soft, but the whole unit works well with the Comfort chassis.
The new interior gives the whole car a lift, as do its surprising array of standard features like a heated front screen, tyre pressure monitoring and hill-start assist.
Drive a Comfort-equipped car hard and you’ll soon see a need for the Sport chassis that comes with Corsas on 17-inch wheels – it makes the steering feel much crisper and more responsive, and the ride tauter, though both are delivered at the cost of a little more noise and bump-thump.